Why Do Men Lose Weight More Quickly Than Women?

In my clinical practice, I see every day that women can have a much tougher time than men in losing weight.  Particularly, when I have patients who are married couples losing weight together, the camaraderie is sometimes overshadowed by the woman’s jealousy in how quickly her partner can lose weight compared to her!

Here are the main reasons why:

  1. Men have greater lean body mass including muscle mass, even when they are overweight or obese. As muscle is our ‘engine’ that burns calories for us, given that men’s muscle mass is on average greater than a woman’s, men have a naturally higher basal metabolic rate.  This means that even without any exercise, a man’s body will burn more calories daily, leading to a greater caloric deficit and weight loss.
  2. Women’s’ hormonal fluctuations can throw off numbers on the scale.Premenopausal women have monthly fluctuation in levels of estrogen and progesterone, leading to cycles of water retention and loss.  From mid-cycle to immediately before the monthly period, water retention is common, so women may not see numbers on the scale drop despite dieting.  This can be frustrating, which is why we rely on other data such as blood tests and waist measurements rather than just following numbers on a scale.  That way, we can reassure our female patients that even if the scale numbers didn’t budge for a week, they are still losing fat and optimizing their body composition.
  3. Other factors. As a generalization, in many of my patients’ households it is the woman who does the majority of the cooking, leading to nibbling/tasting while doing so and ingesting more calories.  In addition, I often find that when a couple goes on a weight loss journey together, women often feel guilty putting their body and health first – we tend to prioritize the needs of our family and our work and do not take our health needs as seriously. 

Therefore, it’s especially important for women who are working on lifestyle change to also make sure they change their mind set as a first step.  We must believe that it is critical to commit to our bodies, health, and lives as the very first priority to achieve our goals.

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